Be Sure to have more than a Simple One-Two Greeting
When exploring how we connect with others in the workplace, I mentioned to a client that it's important to intentionally greet and connect with co-workers at the start of the day - regardless of how they respond. And, likewise, that it's important to intentionally say good-bye and disconnect with co-workers at the end of the day - again, regardless of how they respond. Yet, I'm also aware that this can be a very superficial "hi, how are you" - "fine, thanks!" ping-pong that takes little effort (and in return, provides little connection).
One of my clients suggested that this brief, ping-pong needs to have a longer, more connecting volley in order to create a true connection (and later, a disconnection) for the day. We played around with this in the session, and I could feel the shift when we volleyed longer. Then, I went on to play with this with my unsuspecting co-workers. Yes, the increased sense of connection was palpable when there was a volley of at least three exchanges on each side. For me, it changed from a "being polite" moment, to an "I'm glad you're here" moment. I call this "zipper connecting" since the strength of a zipper comes when several of its teeth are interlocked.
Your Next Best Steps
- Seeing is believing. Choose to put more energy, more connection into your morning greetings by extending your 2-exchanges moment to a 6-or-more-exchanges moment. Adding the extra exchanges means a bit more mental gymnastics to ask or share something a bit out of the ordinary, but it will be the needed zip to connect you more deeply throughout the day.
- You'll be pushed to share just a little bit more about yourself (story) and/or your co-worker will be pushed to share just a little bit more about themselves. These are the moments that connect, if we are fully present to listen.
- If your co-worker doesn't respond, or the conversation dead-ends, it makes sense to keep it going by talking about what you're seeing (rather than what's being said). "It looks like you're busy, is there anything I can do to help out?" or "You seem really quiet, is everything okay?" I've found that talking about what we're seeing is a helpful shift - after all, behaviors (body language, tone of voice, facial expression) tell us most of what we need to know, but we need to check out our interpretation.
Photo - Creative Commons (Mark K.)